At the rink
Luke Kunin finished second among Wild forwards on Monday in Winnipeg, earning more than 20 minutes of ice time.
Some of that was circumstance, of course. Minnesota spent almost an entire period of the game short-handed. Nearly half the game consisted of special teams. Regardless, the flow of the game offered Kunin plenty of opportunities to show his stuff as he fights for one of the final NHL roster spots.
Video: Wild Pregame vs Winnipeg
"You always want to be out there," Kunin said. "I like being out there, I like playing that much, being involved and helping the team win. I think I just need to keep doing the little things and showing them what I'm all about."
Kunin is used to being a high-minute player. The past couple of seasons, Kunin has regularly played north of 20 minutes while at the University of Wisconsin. A sophomore captain with the Badgers last season, Kunin was on the ice in every situation; on the power play, killing penalties and of course, on the team's top line during 5-on-5 play.
When he went to Iowa late in the season, coach Derek Lalonde attempted to bring his minutes down a bit, hoping to see a more explosive and better rested player for the big moments.
As he adjusts to pro hockey this season, finding a good middle ground seems like a reasonable goal.
For now, though, while he's trying to make a good impression in training camp, Kunin will take all the minutes he can get.
"[I'm focused on] day-to-day, worrying about what I need to do and how I prepare for games," Kunin said. "[Playing time] is out of [my] control, I just need to play my game and hope the rest follows."
"We're getting an honest look and giving him every chance," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.
Another one of camp's roster battles will be on display on Thursday as goaltender Alex Stalock takes the crease. Stalock is competing for the backup job behind Devan Dubnyk with newcomer Niklas Svedberg, who showed well for himself in his Wild debut in Winnipeg on Monday.
Svedberg made 22 saves on 24 shots in 40 minutes of play before yielding to Steve Michalek for the third period, overtime and the shootout. Michalek stopped all 19 shots he faced over the final 25 minutes of the game and all three shots in the shootout as Minnesota won 3-2.
"I think all five guys that are here right now, every time they get on the ice, whether it's practice, pre-game skate and games, they're giving everything they have because they know there's an opportunity," Stalock said. "Tonight, it's my turn to go in there and hopefully give the team a chance to win."
Here are the projected lineups:
Marcus Foligno - Charlie Coyle - Nino Niederreiter
Jason Zucker - Luke Kunin - Tyler Ennis
Daniel Winnik - Matt Cullen - Zack Mitchell
Christoph Bertschy - Pat Cannone - Kurtis Gabriel/Sam Anas
Jonas Brodin - Jared Spurgeon
Carson Soucy - Matt Dumba
Nick Seeler - Ryan Murphy/Zach Palmquist
Kyle Connor - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia
Matt Hendricks - Andrew Copp - JC Lipon
Chase DeLeo - Jack Roslovic - Buddy Robinson
Brendan Lemieux - Mike Sgarbossa - Marko Dano
Toby Enstrom - Tucker Poolman
Julian Melchiori - Nelson Nogier
Cameron Schilling - Ben Chiarot
Thursday's game marks the second clash between the Central Division rivals this week; the Wild and Jets each opened their preseason dockets on Monday in Winnipeg, where Minnesota won 3-2 in a shootout at Bell MTS Place. The Jets opened the scoring 46 seconds into the game before Charlie Coyle tied it five minutes later. Second-period goals by Minnesota's Zack Mitchell and Winnipeg's Patrik Laine tied the game at 2. Ryan Malone scored the only goal of the shootout to lift the Wild.
Welcome to Finnesota
The Wild welcomes Sauli Niinistö, the President of Finland, to Thursday's game, where he will drop a ceremonial puck prior to the start of the contest. He is in town for FinnFest USA, part of the Finland 100 celebrations, marking the 100th anniversary of Finland's independence. The event will travel across the country but begins and ends in Minnesota -- the state with the largest percentage of people with Finnish ancestry in the U.S. In 2015, 97,000 Minnesotans or almost two percent of the state's population, claimed Finnish ancestry.
The Wild has two Finnish players on its roster: captain Mikko Koivu, a native of Turku, and Mikael Granlund, an Oulu native. Both players are scheduled to attend a Finland 100 luncheon with President Niinistö Friday. Koivu is also scheduled to attend a Minnesota Orchestra concert, also part of Finland 100, with President Niinistö on Friday night.
32 Alex Stalock G
35 Niklas Svedberg G
3 Charlie Coyle C
6 Ryan Murphy D
7 Matt Cullen C
16 Jason Zucker LW
17 Marcus Foligno LW
19 Luke Kunin C
22 Nino Niederreiter RW
24 Matt Dumba D
25 Jonas Brodin D
26 Daniel Winnik LW
36 Nick Seeler D
39 Kurtis Gabriel RW
42 Pat Cannone C
46 Jared Spurgeon D
47 Christoph Bertschy LW
48 Sam Anas RW
52 Zach Palmquist D
59 Zack Mitchell RW
60 Carson Soucy D
63 Tyler Ennis RW
* subject to change